National accolades for everything from ice cream to small towns, hot dogs and whatever else you can think of keep rolling in for Virginia areas and businesses. While it’s hard to keep up with all that’s fabulous and acclaimed, we thought we’d give it a shot by sharing the more recent accolades. This post, The Best of Virginia’s Outdoors, is the first in a series you can look forward to. Be sure to subscribe to our posts to avoid missing the upcoming articles.
As the summer winds down, a short getaway at the end of the season is always a great way to wrap things up. Include some of these cool culinary spots around.
SKYLINE WINE, DINE, RECLINE TRAIL
Did you know that 27 wineries, a whiskey distillery, incredible restaurants and the highest concentration of B&Bs in the State of Virginia are tucked into the edges of Skyline Drive? As you’re spending the weekend cruisin’ through 105 miles of natural scenic beauty, hop off for a break to take in a winery or two, check out one of the amazing restaurants, and don’t forget to make reservations at one of their many quaint B&Bs.
ASPEN DALE WINERY AT THE BARN
Located in Delaplane, Virginia on one of the most exciting wine trails in the Washington, D.C. area, Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is a boutique winery that offers a unique experience for wine lovers. The legacy of Aspen Dale’s revolutionary-era agricultural experience drives the winery’s stewardship. Aspen Dale has endeavored to capture the best of Colonial and European wine making techniques and blendings, while the ambience of the 200 year-old barn winery and thoroughbred horse farm inspires. Aspen Dale’s passion for history, horses and wines is profound, as their dreams have been brought to life, providing the mellowness of a boutique winery experience that lingers long after the glass empties.
211 SCENIC VINO WINE TRAIL
What a Daytrip! Hop on Route 211, one of the prettiest scenic drives in Virginia. Getting to the premier wineries of the 211 Scenic Vino Wine Trail is half the fun! The gorgeous rolling hills on the route lead to Shenandoah National Park, America’s favorite drive, Skyline Drive, and the quaint village of Little Washington … the town George laid out in 1749 (just an hour from Big Washington DC)! Along the way you’ll find five (soon to be seven) of Virginia’s best wineries, a whiskey distillery, unique boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and the approaching majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Drive up to Skyland for some blueberry ice cream pie. Hike to a waterfall. Do the ziplines. Stay and enjoy the many Inns and gourmet eateries along the way, you’ll get to taste Virginia’s best award-winning wines. Our tip: go backwards! Take the gorgeously scenic drive first to Sperryville, the quaint town named DC’s best weekend getaway by Huffington Post. Enjoy the approaching Blue Ridge vistas. Then slowly work your way home!
COASTAL VIRGINIA ALE TRAIL (Taste Tidewater Tours)
Taking that last trip to Virginia Beach? If you’re a beer enthusiast, the Coastal Virginia Ale Trail is definitely something to put on the to-do list. Dedicated to all things local, let Taste Tidewater take you to the best craft beer the Virginia Beach/ Norfolk area has to offer. Taste and tour up to three venues based on availability. The tours generally last about four hours and include local history and lore, as well as tips on tasting and pairing beer with food.
Catoctin is the first family-owned distillery since before prohibition. Co-owner Scott Harris talks about the distilling process.
LOUDOUN WEST BREW BUS / CREEK CROSSING FARM BED & BREAKFAST
Built in 1773 by the Quaker Edward Thompson, Creek Crossing Farm was one of three plantations and several large tracts of land owned by him in early Colonial Loudoun County. Located in Virginia’s Hunt Country, in a secluded valley just outside of the present day village of Lincoln, there are more than 25 acres of open fields with cattle, woods with wild turkey, pheasants and deer, and a creek that waters the entire farm, feeding organic blueberry and raspberry fields. Venture over to Loudoun and take a trip on the Loudoun West Brew Bus. Make stops at historic Corcoran Brewing, Adroit Theory brewery and Catoctin Distilling, and relax as you get a taste of the Loudoun brew scene without worrying about driving.
BELIVEAU ESTATE B&B AND WINERY
Treat yourself to a stay at Beliveau Estate, a premium B&B and Winery. The estate’s winery has received more than 30 awards since opening in 2012, including 2013 Silver Best Winery by the readers of Blue Ridge magazine. It has a beautiful tasting room, a covered outside veranda, picnic spots, on-site hiking, and in the cooler months a warm fireplace to sip wine around. Enjoy a weekend of true ambiance enjoying all the amenities the estate has to offer.
WINE LOVERS PACKAGE – Arcady Vineyards Bed & Breakfast and Wine Tours
Enjoy two nights at the only Charlottesville Wine Country B&B with a working vineyard! The luxury accommodations offer a whirlpool tub for two, wine fridge with sparkling wine, heated tiled bath floor, free Wifi, Bose CD/radio, TV/VCR and port, and local chocolate turn down. Package includes a full farm fresh breakfast each morning, bottle of sparkling wine chilled in your suite, and a wine and cheese social at check in. You will enjoy a personalized, all-inclusive wine tour with the oldest owner-operated tour company in Charlottesville. Visit four wineries with a deluxe local cheese/fruit/local chocolate platter, and bottled water. The wine tour also provides transportation to downtown Charlottesville for dining.
CULINARY DELIGHTS – SMITHFIELD STATION
Smithfield is world famous for Smithfield Ham, but that is only half the story. Additionally, Smithfield is a quaint coastal town with access to some of the freshest seafood on the Eastern Seaboard. This package focuses on the two hallmarks of dining in Smithfield, ham and fresh local seafood and includes: one-night stay in their Deluxe Lodge Rooms, Boardwalk Rooms or Cottages, or the Lighthouse; dinner for two in the award-winning restaurant. Dinner includes soup, appetizer to share, entrée, dessert, coffee or tea, and a bottle of house wine. Get your getaway started right with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries in your room upon arrival. And don’t forget to stop by Virginia’s largest winery, the Williamsburg Winery!
DOWNTOWN BEER TRAIL PACKAGE – Stonewall Jackson Hotel
Staunton is now home to two Craft breweries, RedBeard Brewing and Shenandoah Valley Brewing. With intimate taprooms and a fine selection of beers all produced on property, come on down and sample some of the Valley’s finest. All within a short walk of our front door, no driving needed! Your package includes: Overnight accommodations, breakfast for two and parking, 6 beer flights (4 oz. pours) from Redbeard, 2 pints from Shenandoah Valley Brewing, a free tasting at Hops retail store, and a $15.00 Gift Certificate to Shenandoah Pizza (and their huge beer list!)
FOODE EXCLUSIVE CULINARY EXPERIENCE – Various Fredericksburg Locations
Experience a delectable 5 course meal especially prepared for you with locally sourced fresh ingredients. Meet your chef and learn the inspiration behind your dishes during your culinary delight! This package includes: One night at a Fredericksburg-area hotel (price varies by lodging tier selection) and especially prepared 5-course meal for two.
SHARED WINES & TREASURED TIMES – Landsdowne Resort
This is a comprehensive wine and culinary adventure in the heart of DC Wine Country as this Virginia wine country tour takes two adults from vineyard and back to the Virginia winery resort. You will be whisked away by a private car for a five-hour winery tour to experience as many wine tours and tastings as your heart desires. Choose from our partner wineries: Breaux Vineyards, Corcoran Vineyards, Doukénie Winery and Sunset Hills Vineyard. Package Includes: luxurious overnight accommodations (double occupancy), private car for a total of 5 hours, $100 Dining Credit, and breakfast buffet for two adults.
BASIC CHEESEMAKING AT CORNERSTONE FARM
Getaway and learn something new together! Learn the basic art of making cheese from scratch. Basic cheese instructions concentrate on “farmers” cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. Easy to make when you get back home. In the individualized 1-day, 2-night getaway, you will learn how to make simple basic cheese from scratch. The day will be spent learning and making a couple basic cheeses, with each person bringing home with them what they prepared. When not cheesemaking, enjoy strolling around the farm, sitting on the deck’s in lounge chairs and rockers, or watching the farm animals. So grab your friends or family and come down to the farm for some fun-filled time away! Package includes cheesemaking, 2-night stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all cooking supplies.
SHENANDOAH WINE TRAIL – By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast
Get a true taste of Shenandoah with this valley getaway package including: Two nights in one of three luxurious cottages, a romantic dinner for two at BEYOND ($60 Value), complimentary red or white Virginia wine upon arrival, a light version of their gourmet picnic to carry to the Valley Wineries of your choice (includes gourmet cheeses, French bread, fresh fruits & dessert), hot gourmet breakfast basket delivered to your cottage door each morning or served in the Common to Main House guests. Wineries nearby include: Cave Ridge Vineyard (10% Discount on cases), Wolf Gap Vineyard & Winery, Shenandoah Vineyards (10% discount on cases), North Mountain Vineyard & Winery, and BlueStone Vineyards.
The Boar’s Head Inn
VIRGINIA WINE PACKAGE- Boar’s Head Inn
Experience Love by the Glass with the Boar’s Head Virginia Wine Package, which combines Four Diamond accommodations and dining with impeccable Virginia wines. Virginia’s quintessential escape, Boar’s Head, offers a warm, intimate ambiance, exceptional service and unparalleled Southern hospitality. Package includes: two night’s accommodations, a welcome gift of one bottle of Virginia wine with an artisan fruit and cheese platter, daily breakfast in the Old Mill Room, a self-guided tour to a local winery (including house credit for two tasting passes), a special three-course Virginia wine dinner for two in the Old Mill Room.
WINE OR BEER LOVERS TOUR – Belle Hearth Bed & Breakfast
Spend two relaxing nights, Tuesday thru Saturday, in any of the tranquil rooms and enjoy a welcoming wine or beer basket stocked with goodies. Then be treated to the vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains while being chauffeured to three of Virginia’s finest wineries and/or micro-breweries only minutes from the Belle Hearth. All of this libation, plus a three-course gourmet breakfast each morning.
VIRGINIA IS FOR CRAFT BEER AND BARBEQUE LOVERS ESCAPE – Oceanfront Inn, Va. Beach
Celebrate your love and passions in life with our exclusive package in honor of the Virginia is for Lovers award-winning slogan. Complete your experience with our Virginia is for Beer & Barbecue Lovers’ Basket including 2 bottles of Green Flash beer, an Oceanfront Inn bottle opener, two Oceanfront Inn pint glasses, and a gift certificate to locals’ favorite, Beach Bully Barbeque.
Some events know no end and we LOVE them! Annually occurring festivals are marked on our calendars a year ahead of time. They’re something to look forward to and yet another opportunity to make memories with the ones we love. Here are five upcoming “late” summer events that you can’t miss. Start a new tradition or chime in via the comments to tell us your favorite parts of these five.
Assateague Island Pony Watching from the Assateague Channel
1. The Chincoteague Pony Swim from Assateague to Chincoteague Island has been happening at the end of July for nearly 90 years. That’s quite the tradition, and there are families who never miss it, making an annual pilgrimage to see the crossing, the parading, and the auctioning of the years’ foals. While you’re in town, be sure to visit Island Creamery, hailed the #1 ice cream parlor in America by TripAdvisor users.
2. The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival is one of the mid-Atlantic’s longest running outdoor music festivals. This year’s session began on July 18 and continues with dates through August 31. Remaining on the schedule are acts like United States Air Force Strings, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, The Oak Ridge Boys and Eddie from Ohio. Centered around Shenandoah County’s Orkney Springs, the setting is bucolic with the Allegheny Mountains as a backdrop. Buy Tickets
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
3. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna is the place for summer concerts and family performances! This summer has included Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Ben Folds, Diana Ross, Pilobolus, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Sara Bareilles, The Fray and Lionel Richie with CeeLo Green. Yet to come (and tickets available for!) are Sarah McLachlan, Darius Rucker, Heart, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Boney James and Eric Benet, YANNI, The Band Perry, Cirque Dreams – Jungle Fantasy and Colbie Caillat. Every summer season brings great acts that you won’t want to miss. Buy Tickets
4. The still new but ever growing Virginia Craft Brewers Festival is held each August at Devils Backbone Brewing Company against Wintergreen Mountain in Roseland. Now in its third year, more than 40 of Virginia’s craft brewers have signed on to offer tastings and tout their upcoming flavors. You won’t want to miss the awarding of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. Devils Backbone has taken home the cup each year so far. Their Smokehaus Lager won in 2013 and their Schwartz Bier won in 2012. Buy Tickets and/or Reserve a Campsite
Morven Park is the setting for Epicurience Virginia in Leesburg.
5. Epicurience Virginia took by storm the culinary and wine scenes of Virginia, DC and environs when it debuted last year. Held at the beautiful, historic Morven Park in Leesburg, this event brings together the best tastes Virginia has to offer in an opulent atmosphere across three days at the end of August. The Grand Tasting is the second day and it’s the event you don’t want to miss with chef demonstrations and opportunities to meet Virginia winemakers and tastemakers. The rest of the weekend includes a Fabulous 1940s Party at Oatlands Plantation and various fine dining experiences. Buy Tickets
At its core, music is all about emotion and storytelling. As Vince Gill puts it, “I just think it’s important to know your history. Period.” And the history of country music starts with the 1927 Bristol Sessions – “the Big Bang of Country Music,” if you will.
Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds.
Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited is a project that brings well known veterans of country and bluegrass together with rising stars to deliver, in fact, orthophonic joy. That is,reproduced authentic sounds that deliver feelings of great pleasure and happiness.
The project of 16 re-recorded Bristol Sessions songs will be released in October, nicely dovetailing with the August 1 opening of the brand new Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.
Recording artists include Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Ashley Monroe. The project is produced by multi-Grammy Award-winner Carl Jackson.
Virginia’s musical legacy is as deep and wide as its rivers and valleys. In Southwest Virginia, the Carter Family and the Stonemans were two of the acts who helped popularize the rise of mountain music and were among the first to penetrate American households on radio and records.
Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
Ralph Stanley (pictured right), from Clintwood, helped bring Bluegrass and Old Time music into the mainstream. His lengthy and distinguished career received widespread acclaim with the release of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, featuring his songs O, Death and Angel Band. And while Man of Constant Sorrow, the unintentional O Brother theme song, wasn’t penned by Stanley, he resurrected the old ballad in 1951 when he recorded it with his brother Carter for Columbia Records. No one knows for sure exactly where the song originated.
Music festivals draw tens of thousands of fans from around the world. The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion fills the downtown area of the vibrant city with stages indoors and out. FloydFest is an eclectic celebration of music of nearly every description and is held adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival honors one of America’s top acoustic guitar makers and this year features Vince Gill as its headliner.
Divergent veins of music run throughout Virginia, producing famous names in a variety of genres. Legendary singers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey both hailed from Newport News. Country Music Hall of Fame member Patsy Cline was born in Winchester. Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton was born in Norfolk, and country music superstar Roy Clark is from the small town of Meherrin. Williamsburg is home to native son Bruce Hornsby.
Dave Matthews grew up in Charlottesville and owns one of Virginia’s top wineries nearby. Pharrell Williams of Virginia Beach has made the world “Happy” with his smash single. He and his musical partner, Chad Hugo, from nearby Portsmouth, comprise The Neptunes and as performers and producers are one of the dominant forces in modern popular music.
Truly, Virginia’s music reverberates around the world today with new sounds and influences, yet still finds a home among the hills of Appalachia.
From inside the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo by Earl Neikirk, Bristol Herald Courier.
Virginia’s lakes are excellent summer destinations for families, couples, friends, reunions … you name it! Take a few-day getaway to enjoy everything lakes have to offer. Tuck away into a private cove in a rental home, hit the water on jet skis, or swing the hours away in a waterside hammock. It’s your playground, find your fun!
1. Forty-eight hours fly by when you’re having fun at Virginia’s second largest lake, Smith Mountain Lake. With 500 miles of shoreline, SML has many access points from the three counties that share it. Here’s just an example of a way to while away a weekend.
Bridgewater Marina, Moneta
Check into “Rustic Cottage” in Moneta. Sitting up on a bank, the view of the deep water cove is fantastic. Amenities include a paddle boat, swimming pool, ping pong, and more. Four bedrooms. Located between lake markers R26 and R27.
If you’re bringing the whole family or just want to stay in luxury, check out the Wind Family Compound in Moneta. At 7,000 square feet, “spacious” is an understatement. Amenities include two master suites, two docks, 320′ of waterfront, game room, two kitchens, large playroom, huge screened porch, and tons more. Located near lake marker R19.
2. Virginia’s largest lake is Kerr Lake, stretching from Scottsburg to Boydton and down into North Carolina, and includes three counties in each state. Fifty thousand acres of fresh water and more than 800 miles of shoreline make it an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Fishermen especially love Kerr Lake, and In-Fisherman magazine has hailed it as the number one Crappie fishing lake. In fact, numerous fishing tournaments are held at Kerr Lake annually.
There are numerous wildlife management areas bordering Kerr Lake. If you love wildlife photography or birding, this is a great destination for you.
3. Lake Anna is Virginia’s third largest lake with 200 miles of shoreline and 13,000 acres of water, yet it remains fairly private.
Kindred Spirits, Spotsylvania
You won’t want to leave “Kindred Spirits” once you check in. Located in a quiet deep water cove, this home sits on nearly two acres and has 250′ of waterfront for you to enjoy. A boat slip, jet ski lift, and fantastic water views are just a few of the great features this vacation home offers.
5. Lake Moomaw is tucked away in the Alleghany Mountains in Covington. It’s 2,530 acres are abundant with a variety of fish species while the wildlife around it are plentiful, too. The 43 miles of shoreline are wooded and undeveloped. True outdoorsmen will find the peace they long for when they choose a camping location on this lake.